EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - The East Brunswick Campus of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools has been granted Bronze Certification by Sustainable Jersey for Schools.

“Schools that earn this certification are considered by their peers, professional associations, experts, and civic organizations in New Jersey to be among the leading schools in the state,” said Randy Solomon, director of Sustainable Jersey, a nonprofit organization that has the goal of building a better world by supporting community efforts to reduce waste, cut greenhouse-gas emissions, and improve environmental equity.

Zach Levine, an English and history teacher in the School of Career Development on the East Brunswick Campus, explained that the new achievement built on the designation of the campus as a National Green Ribbon School in 2015.

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Levine led a nine-member Green Team that included faculty and administration in an 18-month process to meet the requirements for Bronze Certification.

“We needed 150 points in order to be a bronze-level school,” Levine said, explaining that the framework set down by Sustainable Jersey outlines about 60 tasks that could be undertaken, with the point value ranging from 10 to 20 points each.

“What’s great about this is that everyone in the school participated,” he said. “We used every single shop and every single classroom.”

Among the efforts that received points were the renovation of an unsightly courtyard by building services students using recycled materials to create an outdoor space with plantings and structures resembling a Hobbit village. It can now be used as an outdoor classroom.

Other projects included a garden planted by agriscience students that provides produce for the culinary and baking programs and the erection of signs in the parking lot to reduce idling by buses and parents dropping off and picking up students.

Some projects involved the overall wellness of students, including an effort to reduce irritants that might aggravate asthma, an assembly to address the issue of safe driving, incorporation of yoga into gym classes, a presentation on flu prevention, and workshops on reducing stress.

Sustainability topics were included in most academic lesson plans, Levine said.

“Every shop did something pretty neat,” he said.

“We’re trying to promote a whole-school, whole-building sustainable environment,” said East Brunswick Tech Principal Michael Cappiello. “There’s a sustainability element in every career major.”

Robert Feldman, principal of the School of Career Development, said the campus will continue its efforts with an eye toward earning silver status.

“I don’t see why we can’t do it,” he said.

“We’re not done – this is going to be a continuing project,” Levine said. “I’m super proud of this project and I’m super proud of our school.”

When the East Brunswick Campus was named a National Green Ribbon School some efforts to lessen the school’s carbon footprint cited were an energy audit; installation of water-bottle refilling stations to reduce the use of plastic bottles; growing food for use in culinary classes, for the cafeteria and at area food banks, and efforts to repurpose materials rather than throwing them away.

The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District, the first full-time county vocational school district in the nation, also has campuses in Edison, Perth Amboy, Piscataway and Woodbridge, offering 34 career majors. More information is available at www.mcvts.net.